Try this lentil curry recipe from Sri Lankan-born chef Eroshan Meewella. Then check out our egg hoppers, coconut sambal and more Sri Lankan recipes, plus learn more in our insider guide to Sri Lankan food.

Eroshan says, "We make our Parippu (dahl) with red split lentils cooked in coconut milk with a range of spices and curry leaves – a good dahl is a life-changing experience. So easy to make but so difficult to get right."

Eroshan and Aushi Meewella, co-founders of Kolamba in Soho, raided the recipe books of friends and family members back in Colombo (Kolamba), where they grew up, for their restaurant. Their dishes are a mixture of multi-cultural recipes from Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Dutch and Malay influences, just as you’d find on the island itself.

Read our guide on what are curry leaves and where to buy them for advice on purchasing this ingredient.

Kolamba’s parippu (lentil curry) recipe


  • 150g masoor dahl (red split lentils)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ small red onion
  • 6-8 curry leaves, fresh, frozen or dried
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp (or you can use 1 tsp ground coriander powder and ½ tsp ground cumin) Sri Lankan curry powder
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 125ml coconut milk
  • fried onions, fried garlic, fried curry leaves and fried chillies, to garnish


  • STEP 1

    Wash the lentils. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and, when it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and let them start to pop. Add the onion and curry leaves, and mix in. Add the chilli powder, curry powder and turmeric, stir and cook for 5-10 seconds. Add the cinnamon stick and a pinch of salt. Mix to coat with the spices. Cook for about 3 minutes until fragrant.

  • STEP 2

    Add the drained lentils to the pan with 250ml of water, partially cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and ¾ tsp of fine sea salt, and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

  • STEP 3

    Finish the lentils with fried onions, garlic, curry leaves and chillies, if you like.

Discover more easy Sri Lankan-inspired recipes

Sri Lankan cashew and potato curry

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